chapter  13
13 Pages

Playing on the edge

Adventure, risk and challenge in play outdoors
ByHelen Tovey

This chapter examines evidence of the value of adventurous play outdoors, reports on a small-scale research project investigating practitioners' perspectives of such play and considers the implications for policy and practice. It explores some aspects of children's adventurous play outdoors, play that is often physical, fast moving, and risky and unpredictable which as this small-scale research study has found, adults can sometimes find unsettling, disturbing or unsafe. The chapter argues that such play offers essential learning experiences for growing bodies and minds. Adventurous play outdoors is a long-standing feature of provision for young children. The majority of practitioners showed a reluctance to allow adventurous or risky play and anxiety about possible adverse outcomes. A. Stephenson, researching outdoor play in New Zealand kindergartens, observed children's deliberate attempts to search out 'scary' situations. The Health and Safety Executive recommends that play providers replace the traditional risk assessments with assessments that weigh up the risk and the benefit of a particular experience.